Apple Inc. was one of the winners Wednesday when Japanese tech giant Toshiba said it would sell its lucrative chip business for $18 billion to a a group that also includes Bain Capital, Dell Technologies and Cupertino-based hardware company Seagate Technologies.
Apple’s support — and $3 billion in cash — reportedly swayed the deal in favor of the Bain-led group and away from Western Digital Corp., a San Jose-based hard-drive maker that has an existing joint venture with Toshiba.
Toshiba’s announcement also marked the end of a fraught, months-long negotiations process that brought out bitter rivalries between some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech names.
The biggest player of them all, though, is Apple, which has more than a quarter-trillion dollars in cash reserves and has shown it’s more than willing to throw its weight around to win a deal it wants.
The $3 billion Toshiba buy makes that Apple’s largest, tied with its 2014 purchase of Beats Electronics. The company typically spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year — a relatively small amount compared to its vast trove of cash — snapping up lots of small startups that have technology it’s interested in. In recent years, that’s included startups involved in 3D mapping, “dark data” and artificial intelligence.